When it comes to creating a killer website there are lots of factors to take into account, but one of the most important ones to get right is linking. Why? Because in 2021, links are the ‘currency of the web’.
That’s because websites that have plenty of links are viewed as ‘authoritative’ and therefore rewarded with higher rankings by search engines, like Google. In a nutshell, link building is an essential part of your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts.
If you’re new to the world of SEO and just embarking on your online journey, getting your head around link building can be tough but don’t sweat it, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about link building, including:
Link building is the practice of getting other websites to link to pages on your website.
The reason this is worthwhile is that doing so positions your web pages as authoritative in the eyes of Google (other search engines are available) and therefore those pages rank higher in results and bring in more web traffic to your site.
Most link building strategies follow two simple steps:
It goes without saying that the higher ranked your website, the better. It’s search engine 101.
Time and again research shows the majority of web users won’t voyage beyond the first page of search results, aka, ranking well is mission-critical to success. The higher your site ranks > the more traffic it’ll attract > the more consumers see your business > the more sales you make.
Links help with ranking
Google’s own Andrey Lipattsev stated links were one of the three pillars of results ranking therefore if you want to boost your site’s position, you’ll need to incorporate link building into your strategy.
Links count as ‘votes’
Links from other sites are viewed as ‘votes’ in the eyes of Google (and others). These votes are used to help them work out which page, of the many thousands available, deserves the top ranking(s) in search results.
No, we’ve not lost the plot. Everything said so far holds true but there are other factors at play when it comes to your site’s rank, and you’ll need to consider these alongside link building.
Other key website factors include:
We won’t delve into each of these in this article, but just bear in mind that crafting a top-notch website is super important and link building plus many other factors are involved in doing so.
Top tip: You can learn more about ranking factors and nailing SEO here.
There’s a common acronym used in the link building arena: AABE; Add, Ask, Buy, and Earn.
Most link building strategies fall into one of the four sections.
Spoiler - we don’t encourage you to follow all four, read on to learn why.
Adding a link is when you head to a website that isn’t yours and manually include your link, this commonly occurs in the following places:
Building links in this fashion is pretty simple which, unfortunately, means links of this type aren’t valued very highly in the eyes of Google. Not only that, but the fact it’s so easy means everyone’s doing it, dampening your advantage.
That said, adding links in this way is still worthwhile as it may boost your backlink profile but will also help promote your business, get it seen by more consumers, and potentially drive traffic to your site.
This one is exactly as you’d expect - it involves reaching out to the owner of a website you want a link from and asking them to do so by providing a compelling reason they should.
What counts as compelling? Always bring to the fore what’s in it for them when asking, for example:
A word of warning: be careful your efforts don’t constitute what Google calls ‘link schemes’ and can therefore negatively impact your site’s ranking.
We’re going to get right to the point on this one - we do not encourage buying links.
Chances are, doing so will either cost you big financially or in terms of ranking - circling back to Google’s link schemes, buying or selling links is a big no-no and you’ll get penalised if caught.
The only reason it’s included in this article is so you have the full picture - the reality is some site owners employ this tactic (and manage to get away with it) and truth be told, you’ve got the option to too.
Is it worth the risk? In our opinion, no.
When another site links to your pages without you having asked, you’ve earned a link. If you’ve created top-notch content that others genuinely want to reference, this can happen, and arguably earning links is the most effective route to getting them.
The key to success here is two-fold:
1. Ensuring other websites know yours exists, so you’ll need to work on promoting it. The more people who see your content, the higher the chance some of them will want to link to it.
2. Doubling down on content creation. The more unmissable your content, the more likely it’ll get linked to. Invest all the time and effort you can into your content creation.
Now you know the basics of how you can start building links, let’s dive into which tactics are the most impactful for your business.
A well put together website with fast loading, user-friendly pages optimised for mobile and jam-packed with killer content is absolutely key.
Why? Because these traits all contribute to your site’s Google ranking alongside links, and the higher-ranked your website, the more people who’ll see it, and the more people who’ll consider linking to your pages when they come across your killer content.
When building your website, it's important to remember these key features:
No matter how great your pages are, if people don’t know about them, they can’t link to them so promotion is critical to attracting links.
There are loads of different ways to spread the word about your unmissable content, for example:
Last but not least, doing your homework on which of your competitors is doing well in terms of ranking can be a clever and effective tactic.
If you think about it, the top-ranked page on Google for a search query you want your business to rank well for already has the right links to convince Google of its superiority in the field so by doing your homework you can get your hands on similar links and pip them to the post.
There are tools on the market that can help with this one, such as Ahrefs’ Keyword Explore. All you need to do is enter the keywords you want your business to rank highly for and scroll down to the ‘SERP Overview’.
You’ll be able to see how many backlinks and linking websites each top-ranking page has, and a report detailing all the links. Armed with these golden nuggets you can get to work trying to get links from these sources for your own site.